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How to transport a tube pre by airplane without it being damaged by the roughness of airport workers? My cousin is in USA right now, he'll be back to Brazil in 2 weeks, and I asked him to bring me an Avalon...Ok

I've seen a lotta times that guys in airport throwing the stuff to get them in/out the plane, and even saw one of them throwing someone's hard-case that looked like a stack head, where it rolled off the ground etc and I tought to myself 'if it's tube, it's gone'

I think there's no safe way to transport this product by airplane. Am I wrong? There are a lotta usefull instructions to give when shipping something like 'this side up', but will they respect those instructions?

If there are definitely no way of getting trhough the airport undamaged, what is the safest way to ship such a sensitive product to other country?

See I'm not talking about taxes etc, but security of the amp itself.

PS: Forgive me if this is in the wrong area...found this one to fit best to my question

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Jeemy Fri, 10/22/2010 - 14:50

You don't probably want to hear this, but carrying anything worth more than about $40 can't legally be classified as an inter-country gift (maybe different in Brazil but the principle is the same) - the honest answer is if you want it shipped properly, you use a shipping firm who will handle it properly. Trying to carry your own delicate property in this fashion with you on air flights is pretty much asking for trouble - crushed guitars, shattered tubes & PCB mounts etc.

I've shipped 10-20 tube amplifiers using USPS, UPS, FedEx and TNT International with no problems, a Millennia pre, a Manley Massive Passive, a bundle of mics, 30-40 guitars - and never had a single problem. I took a guitar abroad once on a flight with me and it was irreparable - I use one of the little Steinbergers when I go away now.

So really you should ship it; and post is not that expensive. If you are dead set on him bringing it back for you, then you need to get him to open it and bubblewrap the inside around the tubes, better still, remove them, wrap them, and pack them back inside so they aren't even under strain in the system.

Bubble wrap the outside too, box it and then bubblewrap it in another box.

Be aware that if he is carrying back a labelled, large 19" rack box they may well take it into customs and charge you anyway. I have a Groove Tubes ViPre sitting at my brothers house in NY, I had vaguely thought I might get him to bring it back and I've ended up just shipping it. My HO, its not worth the saving if there even is one.

Big K Fri, 10/22/2010 - 17:01

If the valves are not mechanically secured it is truly better to take them out. Also, if it is a highend device you should mark where every valve was seated, if there are more of the same kind.
They might have been selected for the particular stage by hand....

In general, I found that good valves can take some rough treatment when cold. Just see what those tube amps have to suffer day in day out. Those were also my experiences with valve television sets I used to repair in the '70s during apprenticeship. As long as they are heated up..treat them like prima donnas...just

Bertrand Batz Mon, 10/25/2010 - 07:45

I've read a lotta stuff in other forums about tubes being a WWII thing, and being so, they went to the front roughness and resisted it etc, so that I could just buy a HARD case and put it on...

but generally, I agree with you Jeemy. If I want stuff to be shipped properly, I should call for a firm that transports stuff...

I didn't want to hear this, but I already tought of that being the most sober answer.

Link555 Mon, 10/25/2010 - 20:04

I never ship one of my pre's or compressor with the tubes in. Its just a bad idea. A small leak can lead to oxidation and ultimately heat... and failure.

Impacts that cause leads to deform or glass to be stressed or worse fractured will show up fast when the those tubes start to heat up.

also stress-related fracture of the heater tungsten wire could occur from large low frequency vibrations.

Take em out...

Bertrand Batz Sun, 10/31/2010 - 05:09

Too bad musician's friend says they can't send the avalon to my cousin with the valves already taken out. They told my cousin to get to a music store and get the tubes out. But is it even worth to trust? I mean, if he takes it to a 'does everything' guy on a music store(he is in Sterrett, AL) and the guy is not really a technician and damage the product someway...

Or are there preamp technicians in all instrument's stores in USA? =P

Jeemy Sun, 10/31/2010 - 15:52

Not quite sure I understand why they don't just send it straight to you. My feeling is that you are going to be saving so little getting it sent to cousin, then you, compared to the loss that might occur, that its not worth it.

However, do remember that despite my pessimism, every product we use gets shipped around multiple times before reaching us and most of the time its fine. If its not, thats what warranties, both from the couriers and the retailer, are there for.

With regard to valves being a military thing, well, they were, but like everything else in the world, public demand to pay less has meant less stringent QC and the attitude that things should be produced the cheapest way possible and when they fail because tolerances aren't high enough, its cheaper just to replace them with another cheaply made one than build the damn thing right in the first place.

I spent $4,000 on a guitar amplifier recently which shipped with JJ tubes (inside the amp, no bubblewrap!). The rectifier tube blew within a week and I replaced it with the best mass-produced modern tube money could buy (about $60) and it was DOA.

I ended up just spending $200 on a NOS Mullard military issue valve and have had no problems since.

Lesson is, modern tubes are incredibly unreliable and badly built, usually its as simple as the solder hasn't flowed properly into the pins and you can reflow them, but time is money and NOS military is a good way to keep gear running for years and years with no issues.

Taking tubes in and out of equipment however is childs play, especially in pro audio equipment, its as simple as removing a lightbulb - yes you can give yourself a shock if you stick your fingers in the socket (or short pins, or the transformer lines, or a cap short, or another wrong place), but removing them with a soft cloth so you don't leave heatspots is a pretty simple task for anybody who isn't totally dumb. I'd be happy for the music store, or your cousin, to do it if I was you.

Bertrand Batz Wed, 11/03/2010 - 10:06

I also don't quite understand MF's answer(and it's not a language issue)...I mean, if they can't just simply open the unit and separate its valves, why is even there a tech-support team for?

A Brazilian colleague told me something about warranty. If they get the unit opened and do something with this, it couldn't be covered by warranty if there were any future failure. Well, I'm trying to bring it to a distant country! LMAO If it just comes damaged from the transport I won't have the means to get a new unit nor issuing MF anyway, the only option will be 'send to the technician in my own county'. So they could just be nice guys and have it opened for me...but ok

Second-guessing everything from the above, readin lotta foruns, talking to other guys etc, I decided to ask my cousin to buy that hard-shell-explosion-proof-case, fill it with bubble wrap, and them simply send me by FedEx and pray a lot so its tubes don't get shattered by the robot's claws and threadmills =P

I've found a replacement kit of the same tubes in worth only US$80

I'll just order it to come with the unit, so if it gets damaged, I can send it to replacement by a well known technician here.


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